18th July 2012
The University of Huddersfield held an innovative day-long ‘Schools Information Day: Children of Prisoners’ on April 27th.
The event was led by Pr. Adele Jones, director of the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies, and spotlighted professionals discussing the needs of children with imprisoned parents. The event highlighted preliminary COPING research findings in terms of results and good practice in order to inspire professionals working in schools to help them to understand the issues children of imprisoned parents must cope with as well as the different methods of support.
Discussions raised some controversial issues regarding whether or not school staff should be made aware of parental incarceration in order to understand the home situation of a prisoner’s child. Some professionals questioned whether this would be in the child’s best interest, and if so, to what degree school staff would be trained to help steer the child and family in the best direction for help.
A well-known individual to the COPING Project, 14-year-old Siân who has a father currently serving a lengthy prison sentence, spoke about her own personal experience of having a parent in prison. Siân, along with another teenager, Raheel, made history in September 2011 when they addressed delegates at the United Nations’ Day of Discussion on Children of Imprisoned Parents. This was the first time that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child organised a day of special discussion on children of imprisoned parents.
Overall, the University of Huddersfield school event was a success in generating discussion between academics, school-staff, and children of imprisoned parents in order to raise awareness on the topic. By revealing preliminary findings to the school-staff, project partners gained insight into the perspective of teachers and administrators who frequently connect with this vulnerable group of children.
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